German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has called on gay footballers to come out – and to ignore the reaction of fans.

His remarks come not long after Fifa president Sepp Blatter was accused of homophobia over comments he made about gay fans wanting to watch the World Cup in Qatar, and after the sexism row at Sky Sports led to accusations that the game in England was still living in the dark ages.

The goalkeeper, who could be in line for a big money transfer to Manchester United in the summer, made his comments in an interview with German celebrity magazine Bunte. He said: “Yes, those who are gay should say so. It relieves a burden… And the fans will get over it quickly. What matters is the performance delivered by the player, not his sexual preference.”

Neuer is not the only player to have voiced such opinions in Germany. Speaking to the same magazine last November, Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez pointed out that many senior politicians in Germany are gay and that an openly gay player “would play as if they had been liberated”. He added: “Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.”

Neither Neuer nor Gomez are gay themselves, they’re simply anti-homophobia. They were part of the young multi-racial German team that impressed at the World Cup in South Africa last year, and knocked England out in the last 16.

He’s 24.

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German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has called on gay footballers to come out - and to ignore the reaction of fans. His remarks come not long after Fifa president Sepp Blatter was accused of homophobia over comments he made about gay fans wanting to watch the World Cup in Qatar, and...